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September 28, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Dearest Rita,

I got two letters from you today which turned out to be three when I opened them.  So now I’ve got plenty of letters to answer.

First of all, I got that letter of Dales today in the mail.  Do you want me to send it back to you?  And would you send me his address?  I’d kind of like to write him, although I don’t know what the heck I’d say yet.  I just wonder how he’d take getting a letter from me.

Naturally I disagreed with Dale on Vietnam.  I just can’t feel we should pull back to that cozy little shelter called America and say to hell with everyone else.  It seems like quite a contradiction to say how much Americans have to appreciate and then not be willing to help another people achieve what we have when they’re fighting it.  But I will say that Dale sounds as if he’s given it some thought, which is more than I can say for many who scream for us to leave.

As for the part about us changing — I think we’ve talked that over enough to know — at least I do — that any changes won’t be for the worse, but for the better.  And I don’t think any change could alter our basic love for each other, which I know both of us feel as real and lasting.  I think both of us are the type that would have to feel this way before going so far as to become engaged.  I love you Rita, and that can never change.

About what mom said about spending more time at home and with relatives — I’m sure she didn’t mean to sound as if she was excluding you.  She knows I’m not going to hang around them if you’re not there.  One thing is for sure though — before I come home again I’m writing her and telling her not to plan my leave for me.  But I do feel we should spend a little more time with them and with your folks.  But it’s hard to do in so short a time.

I’ve just been looking over your class schedule and it looks pretty full.  How many credits are you carrying?  I notice that your English is only one T.V. and two recitations.  That’s a good deal.  I’ll bet before long you’ll wish your math was the same way.  It’s quite a bit different from high school, isn’t it?

You said Julie said something about a job in her office.  It doesn’t look to me like your schedule leaves too much room for work, does it?  And don’t forget that college requires a bit more studying than high school.  But you’ve probably found that out already.

I’m going to close this out pretty quick and go to the show.  “A Man for All Seasons” is on tonight.  I’ve been working so much this last week I haven’t had time to relax at all.  I even worked most of today, and tomorrow I’ve got KP.  Not much of a weekend for me.

Got to go now, hon.  I’ll write again real soon.  I’m afraid I’ve got some more questions to answer in them.  I’m glad I’m finally getting your letters like I should, and remember…

I LOVE YOU!

Jeff


PS.  Say “Hi” to your folks for me, and thank the mailman for me too, okay?


I have no idea what T.V. sessions are, but that’s what it looks like he wrote so…

Also, the reference to Dale’s letter got me thinking: there are few political issues you avoid in public more than Vietnam.  You just don’t bring it up.  If the  soldier  tells a personal story, that’s fine.  If you talk about a movie that was set in Vietnam, that’s fine too.  But it’s extremely difficult conversation to have between generations.

We were helping another country defend their freedom, which is good!   But it turns out the entire war may have started becuase of false information, which is bad.  The young men (like my father) follow the example of their fathers from World War II and signed up out of a patriotic duty to their country, which is good.   Unlike today, the protesters of the Vietnam War weren’t able to separate the anger they had at their government from the soldiers, which is bad.

The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly all came together to form an awful gray morality for this particular war, and it’s when I’m thinking about all this that I am so happy my father spent his service as a helicopter mechanic.

Ethan

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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